It’s fair to say new Honda Civic has received a barrage of criticism since its launch in the U.S. earlier this year. The Wall Street Journal said the 2012 Civic was a “massive fail,” Consumer Reports called the car “insubstantial,” and we at Automobile Magazine declared the new car “average at best.” Critics weren’t alone in those opinions: Honda’s executives and designers agree that the car is disappointing, and will fast-track a replacement Civic.
Speaking at the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito accepted responsibility for the new Civic’s lukewarm reception, and promised his company would quickly remedy the car’s quality. “The ultimate responsibility rests with me,” Ito told Automotive News. “We take inputs from the various markets with sincerity.”
Sales of the Honda Civic in the U.S. are down 14.8 percent year-over-year through the first ten months of 2011. (Production of the Civic, however, has also been hampered by delays stemming from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.)
At the same time, Honda’s designers have admitted that the new Civic’s styling is dull and uninspiring. Speaking in Tokyo, Honda creative director Yoshinori Asahi told The Sydney Morning Herald that, “In the past few years the cars have been a bit boring.” Asahi said that Honda styling trends will undergo “a dramatic change” within the next two or three years.
We already had heard inklings that Honda was fast-tracking a refresh for the new Civic, with a mid-cycle update now expected in 2013 rather than spring 2014. American Honda President John Mendel has admitted the Civic has been poorly received by critics and consumers, and previously said the company was “appropriately energized” to revamp the car.
Ito reportedly explained that the 2012 Civic was under development during the American financial crisis, which led Honda executives to believe Americans would accept lower-quality cars, so long as they were fuel-efficient and affordable. That plan appears to have backfired, as competitors launched a range of cars with expanded feature lists and improved quality — notably the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, and Hyundai Elantra.